gnocchi with morels and sage shrimp tatsuta-age sweet and sour beef short ribs almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)


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archive for baking

letting go

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Recipe: gnocchi with morels and sage

Even though it’s snowing as I type, I believe it is time to say farewell to winter. I said winter, not skiing! We’re still going to ski as long as the snow is skiable. Spring skiing in the backcountry can be heaps of weird fun as we wait for trails to thaw out in the mountains.


i prefer the quiet of the backcountry to the resorts



Last week, we sent Neva and Yuki back to the kennel for Yuki’s first overnight stay and it was hard not seeing a fluffy white blur playfully bouncing about the house that evening. Both girls warmed up to playtime with other pups much faster than the first visit and they did just fine. We were asked if we wanted to keep the dogs together overnight or in separate rooms and I had to pause. I am certain Neva would have appreciated a night off from Yuki, but I think Yuki would have been beside herself without Neva, so of course we kenneled them together.

post doggy camp nap



As the house cleaning continues, we are over what I considered the crux of the endeavor. Jeremy can not only see the surface of his desk, but he has room to actually work at his desk as opposed to the dining table. He was not happy about my gentle, yet firm insistence that he clean his damn desk and the loads of electronics (cables, obsolete devices, data storage, etc.) in the office closet, but he is now delighted to have a workspace that no longer poses a physical threat to humans or passing canines.

The whole process got me thinking about stuff and things. What do we keep and why do we keep it? My own parents are in the middle of sorting their belongings as they prepare to eventually make the move to Colorado and further downsize their lives. Mom sent me a text last month that Daddy was cleaning out the attic and wanted to get rid of old home movies… movies that included Kris when she was a child. I could hear the desperation in Mom’s voice as I read her text and then it was punctuated by a sad face emoji with a teardrop. This made my heart hurt. I told her to have him pack it all in a box and ship it to me so I could digitally archive everything. Easy solution. Having the movies in my possession meant they were 1) no longer his worry and 2) not destroyed.

I know where Dad was coming from. He was thinking about how many more years he’s going to be around and decided he could live without this stuff. But he didn’t think about Mom’s feelings and how throwing those home movies out meant one more piece of Kris that she would lose forever. It didn’t matter if she never watched those movies again, she just needed them to be in safe keeping. I get it. I know Dad is able to part with these things and it doesn’t mean he loves Kris any less. I also know that Mom will never be able to part with them. I am my father’s daughter. As I cleaned my office, I was able to let go of mementos from Kris’ funeral – a terrible time filled with awful memories. I recycled all of my chemo logs and calendars, letters and cards from people I’ve removed from my life, and all of my dissertation-related paperwork. Good riddance, baggage.


focusing on what is important in life



While running errands last week, we drove past a ranch house on the flats that had a large fenced grassy front yard. Because I am immediately drawn to brightly-colored objects, I noticed about a hundred pastel eggs scattered throughout and gasped out loud. These weren’t just any eggs, but some were as big as my dogs! I turned to Jeremy and excitedly described what I saw. We couldn’t figure out a reason for the giant eggs, but maybe it’s for really little kids, or maybe it’s for vision-impaired kids? While we don’t celebrate Easter, we both think Easter egg hunts are awesome because they are a gateway activity to foraging.

patiently awaiting morel season in the mountains



Morels have been popping around the country, and the blonde morels are starting to show up in the southern part of our state, so I think I can drop another morel recipe for those of you with access now and those of us who hope to see the beloved mushroom coming online in the near future. I made and photographed this recipe at the end of last season, but I promise it will be every bit as delicious now as it was then. Shall we make some gnocchi with morels?

start with russet potatoes, egg, and flour



**Jump for more butter**

a cake for all seasons

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Recipe: almond cake with blood oranges (gluten-free)

Someone turned the dial to Spring this week. In winter, we used to wait for the temperatures to warm up before we could hit the Nordic trails. Now, we have to go as early as possible before the temperatures get too warm and the snow turns to slush. It smells like spring outside in the mountains – like melted snow and warmth and a barely perceptible hint of damp wood. Coyote tracks in the snow don’t get blown away or covered up so much as amplified by the sun’s rays. And Yuki gets her dog stink on after a few minutes on the deck. It’s lovely. All of it.


skate skiing with two happy pups

crested butte mountain towers above the fog



Wednesday was Neva’s fourth birthday and we had a little party for her with Yuki in attendance. We are settling into a nice routine with the pups and I think we have Neva to thank for making Free Range Yuki a reality. When we used to leave the house, Yuki would be nervous and would not play with her toys. She remained at Neva’s side until we returned. But Neva is very chill and good when we are not home. She mostly takes naps, sometimes looks out the window, and occasionally barks her head off at the UPS or FedEx trucks. She let Yuki know that everything was okay. Now, Yuki naps, checks the perimeter (she is many breeds of guard dogs), looks out the window, plays a little with Neva, and even grabs a toy for a few minutes.

happy birthday, neva!

beef, cheese, apples, carrots, and orange



As if on cue, our local mama moose and her yearling (you can see his antler nubs coming in) came by one morning to nibble away at the aspens and currant bushes like she does with each calf every spring. They hung out for a couple of hours in our and our neighbors’ yards. Everyone kept their dogs inside for as long as possible to avoid disturbing the pair until they wandered off to another part of the neighborhood. I managed a few photos from the safety of our deck. Such magnificent creatures.

touching noses

nuzzling with mama

so sweet and affectionate



Today’s recipe is good for spring, summer, fall, winter, because you top it with any seasonal fruit you like. I was looking for a reliable gluten-free cake since most of my gluten-free dessert repertoire consists of non-cake items. The problem with gluten-free baking is that I’m also dealing with high altitude baking. I spent two months working through some version and variation of this cake – sending moderate successes to my neighbors and trashing a couple of outright disasters. But I figured out the tweaks and now have a winner.

eggs, almond flour, sugar, coconut flour, more sugar, baking powder, salt, almond extract, vanilla extract



This cake is baked in an 8-inch springform pan, so smaller than your standard 9-inch cake. The original recipe calls for buttering the pan (or use melted coconut oil), but I line the bottom with parchment paper first and then butter the pan. I’ve become a huge fan of parchment paper for ease of release because I’ve had too many disappointing releases without parchment. I also suspect you could bake this in a standard round baking pan, but I haven’t actually tried it yet.

butter the pan

sprinkle some sugar over the base



**Jump for more butter**

improvements

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Recipe: olive roasted garlic lemon rosemary sourdough crown

I hope everyone had a nice holiday season and enjoyed ringing in the new year! We kept things very low key here, because after all of the rush of holiday baking, package shipping, and making our Year in Photos digital card, I was over the holidays before they had even begun. Done with being social. Done with sweets. Done with being exhausted without the benefit of a proper workout. It was the culmination of several things, but two in particular: Yuki and tamoxifen. Ever since we got Yuki this summer, we’ve been active in puppy training, but not active in that day-long big hike or backpacking adventure or even trail running way. Then I went off of tamoxifen in September, and I think I may have gained some (additional) weight as a result of that. I just felt completely shitty.

Enough, I decided. Time to put my health first. I started working out daily either skate skiing, uphill skiing, or indoor training. It coincided perfectly with the holidays because all I remember was exercising hard, sleeping a lot, and feeling really tired. This is how I kick myself out of a funk, and I definitely felt better and more like myself after a week.


enjoying the views and getting my fitness back on the nordic trails

skiing beaver creek



We also shifted Yuki’s winter training into high gear. Jeremy really liked the idea of skiing with our dogs, but he dreaded sacrificing ski days to get the pups sorted out. Contrary to what people think, training our pups involves a lot of untangling of leashes, stopping to adjust harnesses or booties, yelling, and very little actual skiing. On the one hand we have Neva who, while adjusting well to her “calm down” meds, is still highly excitable and reactive when outside. On the other hand we have Yuki who wants to jump on Neva’s head, jump off the track into the deep snow, and bark at/hide from unfamiliar people and random plants. It’s a bit of a clusterfuck, but we got it sorted out! Yuki is a great little ski pup, although she runs out of gas much faster than Neva. We’ll see if it’s just age and fitness or if she’s simply a short-distance runner.

jeremy skates with both dogs (but one-on-one is much better)

uphill skiing with the pups



One major part of Yuki’s training was Free Range Yuki. Whenever we left the house, Yuki went into her crate and we cordoned off the main room so Neva would always be in plain view. It makes Yuki incredibly upset if Neva is out of her sight because how else can you be the boss of someone? If we crated Yuki with a mat or blanket, she would chew and ingest said mat or blanket. I felt at 11 months, it was time for Yuki to transition from the crate to Free Range Yuki, because we wanted more freedom for us as well as for her. We started by setting up a web cam in the main room and leaving the house for 30 minutes. We just sat in the car in the driveway and monitored the pups. Neva was fine, Yuki was puzzled, but settled down after 25 minutes. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve increased the time away as well as gone to various local hangouts within a 10 minute drive to work and observe the pups. Yuki is much better behaved when we are not around. She and Neva sleep or look out the window or grab a drink of water, but otherwise they are super chill. Yuki can be a bratty and bossy little sister to Neva when we are home, but when we’re not in the house, she looks to Neva for comfort and companionship.

watching yuki from the crested butte public library



Of course, just as things started to find a rhythm, I caught a cold last week. I’m finally on the mend, but this was not the way I wanted to lose weight. There’s nothing like being sick to remind you to take advantage of feeling good when you can.

And on an unrelated note, I found myself in the pages of the 2019 Caltech Alumni Association’s magazine. If you know anything about my alma mater, then you will understand when I say that I never expected to see a mention of me except possibly on the occasion of my passing (which I’d never see). I’m saving a copy for my mom.


who says nothing good comes from social media



There happens to be a recipe for you after all that yada yada. While Jeremy would be perfectly content if I only ever made sourdough baguettes, I personally enjoy bread with mix-ins. In today’s case, it is sourdough bread with roasted garlic and olives. But it doesn’t stop there! Years ago I fell in love with a sourdough crown that I used to purchase from Cured in Boulder. It was topped with olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, and lemon zest. How lovely to turn an already extraordinary roasted garlic and olive boule into a crown adorned with all of those goodies. Shall we?

the bread: sourdough levain, water, olive oil, bread flour, whole wheat flour, olives, salt, (more) water, and garlic



If you are new to sourdough baking, it’s important to point out that making sourdough bread is not a quick process and requires a little bit of planning on your part. I start by mixing my levain the night before I make and shape the dough. To make the levain, you need some well-fed starter, which for me means feeding my starter the morning before the night I feed the levain. 8-12 hours after feeding usually results in a happily bubbly starter. My kitchen is cold overnight (about 55°F in winter), so I try to give the levain 12 hours to become active and full of bubbles by the time I’m ready to start the dough the following morning. Bubbles are a sign that the wild yeast are doing their job – eating and producing carbon dioxide. The levain should float in water.

the levain is ready

dissolve the levain in water

add your flours

mix until there are no dry pockets of flour and the dough is shaggy



**Jump for more butter**